"That makes four who signed that time," then May had
said ruminatively and politely.
"Every little bit helps," he replied, suddenly irritated with
his insufficiency. He did not even try to finish the story the
way it had happened, although the scene was sharp in his
mind. The old man had walked through the crowd, ap-
parently oblivious of the other people. He might have been
walking through an open field. He had said, "Boy, if you'll
please gimme that pen-staff, 111 sign my name." But before
he signed he looked up at Mr. Munn, and added: "I got
me a little piece of ground, nigh on to thirty years back. All
that time ain't no man said me yea nor nay, nor go nor
come. Fm gonna put my name down now, boy, and if you
say yea, it's yea, and nay, it's nay. What little crop I got
don't amount to nothing. My crop ain't a pea in the dish.
But I aim to sign."
After signing, he had looked up, still holding the pen-staff.
"Hit ain't wrote very fair," he had said.
At the moment of its occurrence that event, which now
was nothing, which now stuck in his throat when he tried to
put it into words, had possessed tremendous importance. It
had seemed as if that moment was a point of vantage from
which he could survey other moments in their true perspec-
tive and worth, moments of the past and, perhaps, moments
of the future. Perhaps it still was, but sitting before the fire
with the slight and pleasant weight of May on his lap and
his hand laid protectively upon her hip, he shook his head
with a sudden motion of confusion.
He had failed again in his attempt to explain himself to
May, and to himself. The explanation, the thing that made
him wake up suddenly in the morning as at the sound of a
voice, the imminence of revelation—these things were real to
him, certainly, but elusive. He was aware of them as of some-
thing seen out of the corner of the eye; when he turned his
gaze directly, it was gone. But the expectation, even though
it defied his definitions, coloured everything, even his love for
May. That love had been, for more than a year, a thing IB